Barbie evolves

Digital Studio - Tim Hout 12.17.15 (2015-12-17) 201603 > Barbie Selects Caption: Glamour March Barbie

If you missed it last week, Barbie has several new figures and faces.  She also has a host of new jobs from President to computer engineer. Certainly Barbie has evolved.  Bravo to Mattel.

Backlash around Barbie’s physique has amplified over the past few years.  That noise has also been about the media’s depiction of women from massive amount of photoshopping of photographs to sexual objects including gaunt runway models.

The voice from women is growing.  Women come in different shapes sizes and colors  Women deserve equal pay.  Women are growing companies and leading major companies at leaps and bounds.  This generation is demanding this and much more.

An interesting time of change.  This generation of young children playing these new set of Barbies validates the diversity in the world and that is a step in the right direction.

Comments (Archived):

  1. panterosa,

    Having spent some time in the toy industry, the push to update Barbie is reactive, not proactive, and driven by bottom line and marketing image. Not quite the gusto you want behind one of the most popular doll lines.There are some very smart women in toys, which is mainly a boys club, and a lot of women still perpetuating cutesy. The top brass all know girls deserve better, and yet cutesy sells. It’s as much a problem with the parents perpetuating the problem. There have been multiple articles on this and it’s certainly not news. But it remains an entrenched problem. Go to a Toy Fair and prepare to puke from all the crap, but especially the girl crap.I’d like to be more excited about the body image change for Barbie. Something to watch and see how it plays.How did I solve the Barbie issue with my daughter? I banned them from our house. Worked like a charm.Closing with this clip:

    1. Gotham Gal

      Unfortunately it is probably reactive and not proactive but whatever it takes. It is a step in a better direction

      1. panterosa,

        Totally agree better any step than none.The need for bigger steps in toys/games mirrors the need for bigger steps in funding women’s biz all around. Sometimes it feels like if a small step is taken then larger ones aren’t needed, or planned. I’m sure you join me in objecting to that, which is my larger point.It’s like a reverse death by a thousand cuts which Megan Smith cites as a media+support+funding+organization issue which took women in STEM down since the 70’s. In the reverse life by a thousand gains scenario, each gain takes too long, and is too much work. If this were men I know they wouldn’t have it. Props to Trudeau’s feminism for men too.

    2. LE

      I am not so sure that the impact of all of this is what people think it is.Some guys are “manly men”. And some guys are not.Some girls are “girly girls”. And some girls are not.My stepdaughter never played with dolls and it had nothing to do with whether they were purchased for her. She is 11 and I’ve known her since she was 3. Never saw a doll that she played with or that she wanted. She currently is into all things geeky and while I’d like to think I had a role in this somewhat, the fact is I am also in the house with a 13 year old boy who has no interest in any of these things. (He likes sports sports sports and playing games..) So the girl likes things that the boy normally would. But the boy has no interest in those same things.My own daughters (older one lives in NYC and works for the URJ now in communications) did play with dolls and quite frankly have little interest in technology or engineering or anything like that. And it has nothing to do with exposure of opportunity it’s just not them. Just like it’s not the thing for many boys.As far as “image” and women I think that comes more from boys (and even girls) in school than it does any media image of women (or dolls) (not that that doesn’t play a role but I don’t think it’s the primary driver.).In high school people want to be good looking (and popular) because it attracts attention from the opposite sex and that is the reinforcement system going on at that time that is important. Not everyone but a majority let’s say. Guys want a nice car because they think it attracts girls. (It might but more importantly it impresses other guys and helps get girls that way by attracting popular guys who enhance the boys image..and also give him confidence which is attractive in itself..) I know of at many guys who could never get a date in high school both ended up being prominent doctors who later in life had the pick of women that they wanted because they focused on being studious and not popular. One my sister turned down one guy. She didn’t care about his grades at all.Here is one of them (he wasn’t good looking in high school which is why he had so much time to study):

      1. panterosa,

        Larry, clearly some kids do their own thing regardless of what they’re given. It’s the ones on the fence, pondering, or perhaps with less imagination or more hesitation who end up following the pack. The pack is usually who enforce Barbie-ism for girls.I like that Mark Zuckerberg has said don’t date the nerd, be the nerd regarding his daughter. That will ripple through.

        1. LE

          Grandma is just following age old wisdom (ie “marry rich or potential”) you can’t blame her for that!

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I found banning Barbie had the opposite effect with my daughter. The fact that I showed so much disdain for Barbie made my daughter *extremely* curious as to why and to want Barbies! Ha! (Little rebel.)So I allowed Barbies but just made sure there were plenty of other options around her. Sure enough, Barbie’s gathering dust in the corner now.I’m with you in that I’d like to be more excited. I don’t know if it’s just my attitude at this point, but everything that comes out of that brand feels cynical and without soul. We’ll see. Am I crazy to feel like it puts even MORE emphasis on the BODY?I do like the blue hair, though 😉

      1. Cam MacRae

        …everything that comes out of that brand feels cynical and without soul…Indeed, but you have to admit that shamelessly cloning Bild Lilli and repackaging her as a children’s toy was as inspired as it was cynical.

      2. panterosa,

        I won on the fact their was no need for a toddler to have a doll with boobs. Toddlers should have dolls with close to their age bodies because their play protagonists are usually around their age, or mostly should be. When child sees a Barbie as an adult it changes their interest and focus.

    4. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Awesome clip!!!

  2. pointsnfigures

    Demographics might play a role in Barbie sales. No little girls, sales flat or down. Millennials are starting to have a slug of babies and the baby boom should be bigger than the mid 20th Century one. Barbie sales will go up-but it’s the demographics driving it, not necessarily the rebranding.

    1. panterosa,

      Millennials are more of mixed race than when Barbie came out, and so different looking dolls are emerging and gaining on her.

  3. awaldstein

    Clueless on this subject although I did work directly with Michael Katz for some time who was the Mattel executive who ‘put the tan on Barbie’ and took her to the beach. Made a fortune on it.Question–would you fund a startup that was building a brand of dolls to push this old legacy one into the last century where is honestly belongs?Brands aren’t the government. We don’t have to pander or be patient with them cause it is easier to simply replace them.